On Sunday Nick Nelson and I were Doogie Wolfson's guests on AM1500, and I found myself in the minority on the best offseason move. Here's how they grade out:
Re-signing Carl Pavano (Grade: B)
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Offering arbitration to Pavano was almost a no-brainer, because he was either going to result in a good draft pick or a one-year deal. The latter happened and that's fortunate for the Twins, because there weren't a lot of starting pitchers on the market that would have been a good fit. (And the one who was a decent fit was represented by Scott Boras.)
Signing Orlando Hudson (Grade: B+)
This is the move that is being universally praised, and I'm part of that universe. But just because we had to wait for it doesn't mean it was the most valuable move. Hudson is a great fit who fills gaps at both second base and the second lineup spot. But he was part of a slew of middle infielders who would be good fits, including Felipe Lopez who signed earlier this week at 1/4 of Hudson's salary. I'm adding the "+" grade because there are plenty of indications that the Twins stretched beyond their pre-planned budget to make this happen. That's gutsy, and a good sign for the future.
Signing Jim Thome (Grade: B+)
You have to love a bench signing the simultaneously:
1. boosts offense,
2. provides some veteran leadership and
3. reminds Delmon Young that playing the game for money is a privilege, not a right.
To be fair, this kind of guy also isn't exactly rare. Jermaine Dye is still out there. So is Garret Anderson. You can argue that either would be a better fit than the left-handed hitting Thome. But I'm adding a "+" because adding a bench bat like Thome was a stretch goal, and they achieved it.
Trading for JJ Hardy (Grade A+)
If Hardy goes belly up - and he's certainly gone belly up a couple of times in his career - then I'm dead wrong. But the Hardy move was almost the perfect way to start the offseason. The free agent market was stacked with second basemen and third basemen, but there was almost nothing at shortstop. Acquiring Hardy didn't just boost the lineup. More importantly, it gave the Twins the ability to sit back and let free agent prices come down. They did, and that's what made the Hudson and Thome signings possible.
Perhaps it was because the Hardy trade happened so early, or because it cost Twins fans the lovable Gremlin Carlos Gomez. But it seems like it was almost overlooked. It easily the most difficult of the offseason moves and I'll argue that it provided a solid basis for everything else the Twins did.
If you're up early tomorrow morning, I hope you'll turn the dial over to the Powertrip Morning Show on KFAN. I'll be talking Twins with the Hawkey, Sludge and the Superstar at 7:20 and pimping the Twins Annual. If you can't listen locally on the radio, you can listen through their website.